Interview: Railroad EarthBy Ricardo Baca | November 19th, 2009 | No Comments »
New Jersey six-piece Railroad Earth is one of those groups that proudly, and deftly, straddle the line between folk outfit and jam band. The group’s bluegrass roots are evident in its skillfully picked songs, its collaborative creative process and its diverse instrumentation.
But Railroad Earth’s songs take on a unique personality in the live arena, something Colorado audiences will see and hear when the group plays a three-night stand at Boulder’s Fox Theatre tonight through Saturday.
We caught up with Railroad Earth violinist Tim Carbone to talk about his band’s unique relationship with Colorado and the tricky nature of assembling the set lists for a multi-night stand.
Q: On your website, you talk about how it’s difficult to find words to describe the feeling of playing at Red Rocks under a “darkened sky.” Can you try real hard for us?
A: It was a great feeling, a feeling that you were part of musical history, that you were somehow granted admission to a fraternity of artists that had gone before you.
I also see that the String Cheese Incident’s Keith Moseley will be joining you temporarily for some JamCruise dates in January. How and when did you meet?
Keith is a very good friend indeed and one of the nicest humans you’d ever want to meet. We first played with String Cheese at the Jerry Garcia Birthday Bash in Terra Alta, W.Va., in August of 2004, and (we’ve played with them) many times since.
Tell me about the song “Colorado.” What inspired it?
“Colorado” was inspired by… Colorado. When we found out we were playing the Telluride Bluegrass Festival for the first time, our lead singer came up with this number. It’s a tribute to the state and it’s beautiful people.
In Boulder, you are playing a three-night stand at the Fox. Tell me your band’s approach to shows like these, which will obviously draw certain fans going to all three gigs and others choosing a single show.
It’s a little tricky because you don’t want to repeat songs, if you can help it. The tricky part can be making sure all three shows still have great energy and flow. Many times, one night will be a little darker or lighter. One night may feature a more bluegrass vibe, and another may rock out more. The little variations from show to show are part of what makes people want to see all three nights.
What do you like most about playing live? Does Railroad Earth’s time in the studio compare?
Playing live is a completely different experience than recording in a studio. There’s an immediate feedback from a live audience, and that’s what I love about it. When you’re in the studio, it’s more like you’re under a microscope. The difficult part is somehow capturing some of that live energy while you’re recording. I love recording and could see myself doing just that if, for some reason, I could no longer play live.
It’s been more than a year since we’ve seen a record from you. Can you update us on that front?
We’re hoping to make a new studio recording early next year.
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Ricardo Baca is the founder and co-editor of Reverb and an award-winning critic and journalist at The Denver Post. He is also the executive director of the Underground Music Showcase, Colorado’s premier indie music festival. Follow his whimsies at Twitter, his live music habit at Gigbot and his iTunes addictions at Last.fm.